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Former Lowell pitcher now an author!

There were days when Lowell pitching coach Emil DeAndreis — the AAA’s 2004 Pitcher of the Year — dreamed of being critiqued by Mike Krukow and Tim Flannery, or interviewed on KNBR by someone like Marty Lurie.

He never could have imaged it happening quite like this.

In the past two months, the 31-year-old has indeed drawn favorable reviews from the group, but not as the talented left-handed pitcher he once was, but as an author.

DeAndreis releases his second book “Hard to Grip,” a memoir of his youth, baseball and chronic illness, on Thursday. He’s scheduled to sign copies at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at San Francisco’s Double Play Bar and Grill (2401 16th St.).



“Emil’s passion for the game brings me back to childhood,” writes Flannery, the former third-base coach for the Giants. “I can smell the ballpark, the grass, the dirt. His love for the game is felt on every page.”


Krukow calls DeAndreis’ latest offering “a vibrant depiction of a ballplayer that finds his way despite losing his ability to play the game he loves. Emil is a total gamer and wonderful writer.”

Writing wasn’t on DeAndreis’ radar as a fun-loving, carefree youth at Lowell. The only child of musically gifted and humorous parents, DeAndreis was voted class clown his senior year, though he took baseball seriously.

He was a four-year starter for the Cardinals, who won three straight San Francisco Section titles. His 12-1 senior season opened the door to Hawaii-Hilo, where he broke the school record for career appearances.


The book chronicles mostly fun and humorous twists and turns through high school and college. But it takes a serious turn when he was about to embark on a professional career in Belgium. That’s when the burning and swelling began.

“It started in the elbow,” he said. “Then the fingers, the knuckles, the wrists. All the joints.”

At 23 and entering his physical prime, he was asked a question that would change his life: “What do you know about rheumatoid arthritis?”

“Here I’m considering my life as a professional athlete, but now diagnosed with an old lady’s disease,” DeAndreis said.

He decided writing would be cathartic and rewarding, and began jotting down thoughts and stories. “I had spent so much of my life committed to baseball,” he said. “I channeled all that energy toward writing. It took over my life.”

When he came back home, longtime Lowell head coach John Donohue gave him a call and thought DeAndreis would be a perfect pitching coach.

“Honestly being around baseball is the last place I wanted to be,” he said. “I was sort of bitter and resentful the game was taken away. Being around the game would just be a constant reminder.

“I gradually accepted the game. I shed the skin of being a player and my priority now is to help others live that dream.”

He worked with Lowell graduates Craig Colen (Cal Poly) and Elijah Saunders (Grambling State), a pair of college juniors.

Lowell head coach Daryl Semien, whose nephew Marcus is the A’s shortstop, said DeAndreis is the perfect mentor for his Cardinals (11-7).

“He’s one of the best guys I’ve ever coached with,” Semien said. “He gives out great instruction. He’s completely relatable to the kids but worldly, too. He’s been places. We’re lucky to have him on all levels.”

DeAndreis teaches English at College of San Mateo early in the day, coaches Lowell in the afternoon and is an author by night. He and his wife, Kendall, live just a few blocks from where he grew up in the Sunset District.

“Baseball taught me to be tenacious,” he said. “There’s a lot of rejection in writing. It’s 90 percent rejection. But the determination I learned from the game and a lot of support from others have helped me through. It’s all worked out.”

MaxPreps senior writer Mitch Stephens covers high school sports for The Chronicle.